Wisdom: Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility. The only certainty is uncertainty, and once we realize this as truth, the healthier and more authentically happier we will be. Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is fear walking. ~Susan David PhD

Does this quote resonate with you? I stumbled upon it today, and began to think about all the times I walked head on into life challenges while feeling terrified. I imagine all of us have had similar experiences. In fact, given the upheaval and loss experienced this past year, it is not hard to find something to be fearful about.

What is fear anyway? The dictionary defines fear as “an unwanted often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger, anxious concern, reason for alarm.” I’ve heard the saying that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.

In 2015, my life came to a screeching halt. My marriage ended, my mother and best friend left this Earth, I was unemployed, and my kids’ lives were turned upside down. There were so many uncertainties, unknowns, and a great deal of guilt and FEAR. The years following my life grenade were a roller coaster ride.  The highs were full of love, laughter and joy and the lows filled with hopelessness, sadness, shame, and tears.

Many days were spent looking outside of myself to help distract me from the emotions I was feeling. I desperately looked for something, or someone, to hold on to, a place to feel grounded, safe and secure. I found through a great deal of trial and error that the only true safe place was within myself.

I became more present, sought nature, and learned about shadow work. I acknowledged the good, and the not so great, parts of myself. I learned how to self love. I started to question the belief systems that were bestowed upon me when I was little. Meditation allowed me to trust my own “knowingness”and turn off all the mental chatter. I learned about different mindsets and reflected on the stories I was telling myself, especially the ones where I was the victim.

By observing my thoughts, I began to see how much I was judging myself. I learned self-forgiveness and self-compassion. This was much more difficult than extending compassion and forgiveness to others.

Through all of this, I realized I had become stuck in my thought patterns, beliefs, and stories. The good news is, is that I didn’t need to stay stuck. I could move through the challenges with grace and ease and embrace the desire and commitment to show up for myself everyday.

When I stumbled upon Susan David’s above quote and her Emotional Needs Pyramid, I realized I had moved through it on my own. I was so intrigued by this that I googled her and found that she wrote a book called “Emotional Agility”. I know there are many people struggling through these unprecedented times, therefore, I was moved to share this and to offer a piece of my life journey.

Susan David’s 7 step Emotional Needs Pyramid stands as a vivid reminder of our inner evolution as we encounter and deal with life’s, at times, painful realities. When anxiety, fear, and grief arise out of circumstances that we cannot control it is necessary to embrace acceptance (step 1) in order to initiate positive change. And without compassion (step 2) for oneself, and for others, it is difficult to navigate these challenges and to find forgiveness. Additionally, healthy routines (step 3) are essential to healing, because they are intricately linked to our psychological state.

Our emotional wellbeing is also predicated by the relationships we have, and this connectedness (step 4) is necessary in order to establish a calm state of peace and happiness. It takes courage (step 5) to face our inner demons, our messy selves, and with courage we become more resilient and hopeful — but without an ability to reflect, and reset (step 6), we cannot learn from the past and move forward.
And finally, Wisdom (step 7), and self-love, are the goals of such emotional work. With wisdom we come to accept life’s uncertainties with authenticity, and we learn to appreciate the duality, the beauty and the fragility existing as one.

On the other side of pain and loss is freedom, joy, empowerment, and all of the juiciness a life well lived can bring. Nothing is permanent. Life is challenging, however, we can walk forward with courage and purpose, and face life’s difficulties head on.

Emotional well being is perhaps something we do not prioritize, but it is vital to address as it does effect our physical health.

Be well and know you are not alone.